Education secretary won’t say if schools should listen to CDC guidelines on reopening

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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Sunday refused to say whether schools should follow guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on reopening, saying those guidelines are meant to be “flexible.”

“The CDC guidelines are just that, meant to be flexible and meant to be applied as appropriate for the situation,” DeVos told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”

The CDC guidelines for schools to reopen contain steps to keep children safe, including keeping desks placed six feet apart and for children to use cloth face coverings. The CDC suggests the closing of communal areas like dining rooms and playgrounds and the installation of physical barriers like sneeze guards where necessary.

“There is nothing in the data that would suggest that kids being back in school is dangerous to them,” DeVos said, when asked by Bash if she can assure parents and students that schools will be safe and pressed on health guidance that says children are at highest risk when meeting in full-sized, in-person classes — doubling down on a similar comment she made last week.

The comments from the education secretary come as she and other members of the Trump administration push for US schools to reopen this fall amid the deadly coronavirus pandemic. President Donald Trump and the White House recently pushed for the CDC to revise its school reopening guidelines, but the agency’s director, Dr. Robert Redfield, said last week that they will not be loosened.

“Kids need to be in school. They need to be learning, they need to be moving ahead. And we can’t — we cannot be paralyzed and not allow that or not be intent on that happening,” DeVos said.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

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